More than a campaign: What employer branding means to me

The other day, I caught up with a good friend for a coffee, but it was far from the cheery chat I’d expected. While my friend is usually upbeat, right now, he’s struggling.

My friend recently got promoted to a high-level management role at a well-established organisation. And although he’s enjoying the position itself, there’s a catch: He’s responsible for creating a team from scratch but struggling to find decent candidates. He needs a team of seven or eight, but even after seven months of recruitment, he only has four people.

Now, my friend is an incredibly hard worker who can bite off a lot more than I can chew. I’ve often been impressed by how well he handles stress. But managing a skeleton team across three capital cities while tackling a challenging new role and constantly recruiting is pushing him to the limit. I’ve never seen him this frazzled.

The reason he’s stuck with a skeleton crew is only a small number of applicants are applying for each position he advertises. And many of these applicants don’t have the technical skills needed for the roles.

My friend tells me he believes there are two reasons for his recruitment woes:

Firstly, the salaries his organisation offer simply aren’t competitive enough. And even when candidates aren’t initially put off by the low-ish salary, some have turned down job offers when they’ve realised there’s no wiggle room on pay.

The other issue my friend has identified (the one we are interested in here!) is that no one knows who he works for or why they should join his organisation. That’s despite the business being one of the big players in its field, with offices across Australia and a nearly 30-year history of growth. Candidates simply scroll past the job ads because they know nothing about the company and aren’t aware of the benefits.

A quick look at the organisation’s website, careers pages, job ads and social media posts confirms that it has simply not invested in employer branding in any way, shape or form. This is despite being an organisation that my friend assures me has plenty to promote to appeal to talent. It offers significant career progression opportunities and has a culture where people genuinely take pride in producing high-quality work. It’s a corporate organisation known for its relatively relaxed pace, so staff have work-life balance. Employees appreciate the monthly recognition awards and an overall friendly atmosphere.

There’s a third issue at play here, of course, one which we’re all facing. And that is, employees have plenty of options right now. Companies Australia-wide are struggling to find talent. And as we know, it’s not just an Australian problem. In the US, for instance, showing up drunk to your restaurant shift is no longer cause for disciplinary action because employers can’t afford to lose staff. Worker hoarding is now a thing.

To my mind, that makes employer branding more important than ever. Because while salary still matters, it’s far from the be-all and end-all. In fact, we know that employees are motivated more strongly by other factors, like culture and having the opportunity to make an impact.

So for me, watching my friend struggle, employer branding feels personal. Because the difficulties he’s facing could potentially have been at least partially alleviated if his organisation had invested in employer branding.

Of course, I’ve suggested this to him (don’t worry about that!) The decision rests with the powers that be, he tells me. But if his work situation doesn’t improve, you can bet my friend will start looking for other jobs. Maybe I’m biased, but this is a smart, personable and dedicated guy, so it would be the organisation’s loss.

Need help with your employer branding or talent strategy? We’re always up for a chat. Reach out to EBA today.

About the Author

Asking lots of nosey questions about people’s lives and being paid to do so, is one of the things Julia Bartrim loves most about being an Employer Brand Storyteller. Julia’s background working in industries as diverse as journalism, ecology, hospitality and social housing has honed her curiosity about understanding people from all walks of life. If Julia could interview animals too, she would. She’s currently in the process of befriending her neighbourhood crows and is known to talk to her garden plants due to a saddening shortage of pets.

About Employer Branding Australia

We exist to help you attract the best talent and keep them engaged. Together, we’ll create and promote your 'Why work for us?' and turn your authentic people stories into your most powerful marketing tool.

Contact us today for a free, honest assessment of your employer branding opportunity.


t: +61 (0)7 3709 1003